Linguistic Survey of India- Jharkhand


The Linguistic Survey of India (LSI) is an ongoing project of the Government of India that aims to document and study how languages have changed in the country over the years. It considers shifts in society, administrative regions and the reorganisation of states based on linguistic identity. This project has been undertaken by the Language Division, Office of the Registrar General, Government of India.

Part of this project is the ‘Linguistic Survey of India–Jharkhand’ which studies twelve languages spoken in Jharkhand. The surveys were carried out between 1984 and 2000 before the state of Jharkhand was carved out of Bihar on November 15, 2000.

The survey works on the census framework according to which ‘language’ and ‘mother tongue’ are ‘co-terminus’ or mean the same. The volume discusses six ‘languages’ (Hindi, Santali, Kharia, Kurukh/Oraon, Mundari, Ho) and six ‘mother tongues’ (Nagpuria, Panch Pargania, Sadan/Sadri, Khortha/Khotta, Mahili, Malpaharia). This selection of the languages is based on regional importance, the number of speakers, and the locations where the survey was conducted.

The present-day LSI is an extension of the survey first proposed by George Abraham Grierson, an Irish linguist who documented Indian languages during the pre-Independence era and a few years of the early 20th century.  This survey “complements and supplements” Grierson's survey conducted when the states of West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, and present-day Bangladesh were part of the same Bengal Presidency province.

The document is divided into 14 main chapters. The first chapter introduces the history, culture, demography and administrative units of the state. Chapters 2-7 contain grammatical descriptions of the six ‘languages’ while chapters 8-13 describe the six ‘mother tongues’ spoken in Jharkhand. The fourteenth chapter presents a comparative lexicon of 500 lexical items of all the languages.


  1. According to the 2011 Census, Hindi was spoken by 20,436,026 speakers in Jharkhand. Highest numbers of Hindi speakers were reported in Ranchi, Giridih, Palamu, Dhanbad and Hazaribagh districts. It was recorded as the mother tongue of 7,059,131 people in the state.

  2. Perhaps the most essential language in the Munda sub family of Austro-Asiatic languages, Santali is spoken in Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Mizoram, Odisha, Tripura and West Bengal. In 2004, it was added to the Schedule VIII of the Indian Constitution. Around 7,368,192 people speak Santali in India, out of which 44.38 per cent or 3,269,897 speakers reside in Jharkhand. The Olchiki (or Ol Chiki) script developed in 1925 is used for writing Santali, the survey notes.

  3. Kharia is a non-scheduled language of India. Almost half (47.09 per cent or 140,148) of recorded Kharia speakers in India – 297,614 – live in Jharkhand. The survey notes that the language does not have a script of its own and people often use Devanagari, Bengali or Odia scripts for writing in Karia. It is not used as a medium of instruction in educational institutions in the state but is taught as a subject at graduate and post-graduate levels.

  4. Kurukh/Oraon is from the northern Dravidian group of languages and is spoken in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal. According to the 2011 Census, there are 1,988,350 speakers of Kurukh/Oraon in the country of which, 952,164 (47.89 per cent) reside in Jharkhand with large numbers in Gumla, Ranchi, Lohardaga, Latehar and Chatra districts.

  5. Mundari belongs to the Austro-Asiatic language family and is also known as ‘horojagar’ (human language) or ‘Munda jagar’ (Munda language), the survey states. It adds that Mundari has four main dialects – Hasada, Naguri, Tamaria and Kera. It is spoken by 942,108 speakers in the state, constituting 83.5 per cent of the 1,128,228 speakers in the country.

  6. The survey says that Ho and Lohara are clubbed under the Ho language. A large number of Ho speakers are recorded in West Singhbhum, Jamshedpur and East Singhbhum. Of the 1,421,418 people who speak Ho across India, over 69.95 per cent or 994,302 speakers live in Jharkhand.

  7. Nagpuria belongs to the Eastern Magahi group of Indo-Aryan languages. Within the state, Nagpuria speakers are found in Latehar, Lohardaga, Chatra, Garhwa and other districts. The survey notes that it is used as a medium of instruction in primary schools. The 2011 Census recorded 99.32 per cent of the total 763,014 Nagpuria speakers in the country to be living in Jharkhand. Outside Jharkhand the language is also spoken in Odisha, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal.

  8. Panch Pargania is spoken by 244,914 people across India of which 244,290 or 99.75 per cent live in Jharkhand. A language from the Eastern Indo-Aryan family, Panch Pargania is spoken by people in the districts of Ranchi and Khunti and uses Devanagari or Bengali scripts.

  9. Sadan or Sadri has been clubbed under Hindi mother tongue in census since 1971. While it is not used as a medium of instruction in Jharkhand's schools, over 1,627,083 people speak it in the state. This is 37 per cent of the total speakers of the language across the country. In the earlier survey, Grierson had considered both Sadan or Sadri and Nagpuria to be the same and as being a Bhojpuri dialect.

  10. Khortha or Khotta evolved from ancient Magadhi Prakrit and is part of the Eastern Indo-Aryan family of languages, the survey states. It is spoken by many people in the Hazaribagh, Koderma, Giridih, Bokaro and Dhanbad districts. A total of 8,038,735 people across India speak this language of which 7,738,960 reside within Jharkhand.

  11. A form of the Santali language, Mahili is included within it for enumeration during census. It is mostly spoken by a community practising bamboo craft living in parts of Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha. According to 2011 Census, 26,399 people speak this language in India of which 18,828 reside in Jharkhand. Mahili does not have a script of its own and often uses Olchiki or Bengali scripts.

  12. Malpaharia, an Indian-Aryan language with Dravidian influences, does not have official language status. It is not a medium of instruction in schools and does not have a separate script. Speakers of this language number 3,946 in India, 14.83 per cent or 585 of which live in Jharkhand. Along with Jharkhand and West Bengal in India, it is also spoken in some parts of Bangladesh.

    Focus and Factoids by Tarini Agarwal.


Language Division, Office of the Registrar General, Government of India


Language Division, Office of the Registrar General, Government of India


01 Aug, 2023